Call me brave, call me stupid, but above all else, call me a recent addition to the Toronto cyclist club.
It’s early days, but for the past few weeks I’ve been cycling in and out of downtown Toronto, from Monday to Friday.
After I finally took the plunge and bought a bike, a helmet, and a lock, I’ve slowly grown more confident on my daily commute and, helmet-hair and wardrobe malfunctions aside (maxi-dress, not so much), I have to say, I’m totally loving the ride.
Aside from a shorter journey to work and not having to buy a TTC pass or tokens, one of the greatest benefits of cycling has absolutely nothing to do with the economic perks.
It does, however, have everything to do with getting away from my god forsaken smartphone.
For 15-20 blissful minutes (depending on how big my lunch was) there and back each day, I am free from the constraints of my phone, email and all other irritatingly addictive technology.
It may not sound like a lot – but ask yourself, ‘What’s the longest I went without looking at my cell today?’ Then answer your own question again – only this time, without fibbing.
And it’s no wonder that we’re all surgically attached to our iPads and smartphones. If we ever leave our phones in another room for even 30 minutes, we return to a barrage of missed calls, emails, and text messages, demanding to know ‘WHERE RU?!’
I can barely get through a single Netflix sitting without a few furtive glances at my phone, receiving a look of disdain from my husband each time my screen lights up as I rapidly respond to a Facebook notification during an episode of House of Cards.
But when I’m on the road, there’s no space for thinking about anything else except cycling. Which is strangely liberating.
But not everyone is using the time to unwind from the 9-5 and focus on the task at hand. Just the other day I became aware of loud chatter approaching me from behind and assumed it was a pair of friends cycling together. Once the noise got closer, I realised it was actually a businessman with headphones in, having a conference call on two wheels, across the junction of Dundas and Beverley.
The need to do more than one thing at once seems incredibly strong for most, which isn’t surprising given our busy lives and hectic schedules. And, sure, the old stereotype goes that “women are better at multitasking.” But is anyone – male or female – really any good at it in the first place?
When I attempt to do three things at once, I generally find I end up doing them all sub-par, or so slowly that I might as well have taken the time to complete each task individually. After a quick Google search to consult the study’s and stats surrounding the subject, it turns out I’m not the only one who’s struggling to do two(hundred) things at one. Or, at least, struggling to do them well.
If I watch a film and text, I miss the plot line entirely. But if I stop replying to that email because my friend is telling me about her love life, it will sit in my drafts for weeks before I remember that I forgot to press send.
So why can’t we wait until we finish one task to start a new one? We have an obsession with doing everything all at once; using both hands to simultaneously text and type, the right and left sides of our brains to be both creative and logical at the same time. But more often than not, I end up with more crumbs in my keyboard and headaches than items crossed off my to-do-list. If it’s not really efficiency, perhaps we’re just distracted, and “multitasking” is the lie we have to feed ourselves.
A couple of nights ago, as I pushed my bike through the Entertainment District – hey, I’m more confident than I was, but I’m not crazy – I attempted to send a text to give my dinner-date a heads up. I had only got as far as “On my w…” when my handlebars veered wildly out of my grasp, collapsed under their own weight, and sent my phone flying and my bike crashing painfully into my shins.
And if that’s not a warning of the dangers of multitasking, I don’t know what is.